The Hug

Faber & Faber. Apr. 2019. 48p. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9780571348756.
PreS-Gr 1–This book contains dual narratives, presented by flipping the book over, so that the stories intersect and come to a joyful conclusion in the middle. One story line follows Hedgehog, who is feeling sad and knows that only a hug will help. Hedgehog asks Fox, Squirrel, and Magpie for a hug, but each creature makes an excuse for why they cannot help out. Owl explains that Hedgehog is prickly, but says that there is “someone for everyone.” Likewise, using the same repetitive text, Tortoise encounters Badger, Rabbit, and Frog. Owl explains that Tortoise’s shell is very hard, but when Tortoise and Hedgehog meet, they discover that their hugs are perfect for one another. The illustrations are whimsical, depicting unique and expressive animal characters with humorous flourishes. The illustrations also convey that each of the animals has their own imperfections. Fox scatters garbage everywhere, Magpie has an unpleasant singing voice, and Badger is a very messy eater. These details help to underpin the message that while every hug is not for everyone, it takes all sorts to make a world.
VERDICT A tender story that carries the message of embracing one’s perceived shortcomings, best to be shared with early elementary students and the very young.

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